Activities of Daily Living

Refers to five activities: bathing, dressing, transferring, using the toilet, and eating. These activities reflect the individual’s capacity or ability for self-care and the degree of his or her independence.

Advance Directives

Legal documents written while the individual is still able to make decisions about their own healthcare. The two most common types are durable power of attorney and living will. These documents can only be used if the individual becomes incapacitated or incompetent.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking, and behavior causing  short-term memory loss, the ability to reason, the ability to care for oneself and deterioration of language skills. It is the most common type dementia. Symptoms include: slow, but steady memory loss; decline in ability to perform routine tasks; disorientation in time and space; poor judgment; changes in personality; difficulty learning; and loss of language and communication skills

Antipsychotic Medication

An antipsychotic medications are a group of medications that are mainly used to treat mental health problems such bipolar and schizophrenia. They can also be used to treat severe depression and severe anxiety. These medications are sometimes called tranquilizer (, n.d.).


Autonomy is an individual freedom or right to make decisions without being forced. It is concept that gives the individuals the rational right to make their own informed choices


Beneficence is an action that is done for the benefit of others. The action can be taken to help prevent or remove harms or to simply improve the situation of others.


Capacity is the ability to understand information about to a decision and to appreciate the result of the decision. Capacity is specific to an activity. In other words, an individual may have the capacity to do one thing (refuse treatment) but not another (change a will). Having dementia does not necessarily mean that the individual lacks capacity. Compare to Competency.


An individual who provides help to those that find it difficult to care for themselves.

Case Management

The monitoring and coordination of treatment/s that people with specific diagnoses need.

Certified Nursing Assistant

A certified nurse assistant is a provider who is trained and certified to help nurses by providing non-medical activities such as bathing, grooming, feeding, dressing, assisting nurses with medical equipment, and checking vital signs such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiration.

Chronic Disease

Usually illnesses that last long and often lifelong treatment is required. These diseases tend to be expensive and may affect a person’s ability to function and remain in the community. Often they can lead to, losing one’s home, disability, or death.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy or talk therapy. It focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The principles of CBT are identifying negative or false beliefs and testing or restructuring them. Oftentimes someone being treated with CBT will have homework in between sessions where they practice replacing negative thoughts with with more realistic thoughts based on prior experiences or record their negative thoughts in a journal (National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).


A companion serves a non-medical role in a person’s or patient’s life but does not provide nursing care. Companion Care Services serves seniors, new and expectant parents, and other individuals. They perform duties such as reminder services (medications, dates, routines), assisting with mobility, providing companionship, preparing meals and feeding, escorting to appointments, organizing and reading mail, entertaining, and more.


Competency is a legal term, not a medical one. It means that a person has the ability to remember, reason, or understand the consequences of actions (Competency and Incompetency, n.d.). In law, it means the person can make legally binding decisions. People are presumed competent unless determined otherwise by a court. Physicians cannot pronounce an individual incompetent, judges declare individuals incompetent.


Following treatment recommendations. Also known as adherence.


Consent is to give assent or approval or to be in concord in opinion or sentiment (consent, n.d.).


Dementia is a brain disease characterized by the loss of intellectual functions (e.g., vocabulary, abstract thinking, judgment, memory loss, physical coordination) to the extent that a persons daily functioning becomes a problem (Alzheimer’s Association, n.d.). It is not a disease in itself, but rather a group of symptoms that appear with certain diseases or physical conditions. Dementia can be caused by degenerative disease (Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases), vascular diseases or stroke, metabolic disorders (thyroid, kidney dysfunction, and certain vitamin deficiencies), AIDs, drugs and alcohol, and psychiatric disorders.


Is the term given to describe a group of signs and symptoms or the process of determining by examination the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition (Diagnosis, n.d.). For example, joint pain can be the result of injury, arthritis, or sudden from influenza. For the provider to make a diagnosis, they need to know more information about the joint. like when it started, how often it is experienced, description of the pain, if the pain is experienced when moving or sitting, and if cold weather affect the pain) One or more diseases or injuries in the home healthcare or discharged hospice care clients medical record.

Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney that stays in effect even after the person whom the document represents becomes incompetent.

Elder Care

Elder care, sometimes spelled eldercare, is care for aged individuals. It is also commonly referred to as geriatric care or senior care. Elder care includes a wide range of care services from help with activities of daily living to skilled nursing care. Services can be provided at home, in the community and in residential care facilities, including assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. Typically elder care is provided over an extended period of time to people who need another person’s assistance to perform normal activities of daily living.

Healthcare Proxy

A legal document in which a designates another person to make healthcare decisions if he or she is in a situation that makes incapable of making his or her wishes known. The healthcare proxy has, in essence, the same rights to request or refuse treatment that the individual would have if capable of making and communicating decisions (American Cancer Society, 2015).

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is the Privacy Rule standards that address the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information. This health information is known as protected health information. The rules apply to organizations like hospitals, clinics, rehab centers, pharmacies, laboratories, etc). These organization are called covered entities (US Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.).

Home Care

Home care is healthcare and related services provided in the patient’s home. This can range from care provided by a home health aide, home health nurse, companion, or caregiver and includes intermittent care, respite care, and home therapies. Services also include nursing, home health aide, physical, speech and occupational therapy, medical social services, hospice, maternal child health, and other related services such as homemaking, nutrition counseling, medical supplies and equipment, transportation, and laboratory services. The term home care covers both medical and non-medical forms of care.

Home Health Agency

A home health agency is an agency that provides home healthcare for individuals that needs the services. These agencies are often referred to as home care agencies. Home health agencies help match a home healthcare professional with a person in need of home healthcare services including: skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and care by home health aides.

Home Health Aide

A home health aide is a trained professional who provides non-medical health services. Home health aides primary tasks include personal care and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Medicare does not cover home health aide services unless one is also getting skilled care such as nursing care or other therapy. Training or certification requirements vary from state-to-state, but typical services include assistance with ADLs, managing medications, and some household tasks. In some states, only licensed home health aides can provide hands-on assistance.

Home Health Nurse

A home health nurse is a nurse that works in a home care environment. This includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses.


Incapacitated is the inability to understand information about to a decision and to appreciate the result of the decision. The person may be impaired by mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, or chronic intoxication (Incapacitated, n.d.). A healthcare provider can decide if a person is incapacitated. Compare to Capacity and Incompetency.


Incompetency is a legal term, not a medical one. It means that a person DOES NOT the ability to remember, reason, or understand the consequences of actions (Competency and Incompetency, n.d.). In law, it means the person CANNOT make legally binding decisions. Only judges can declare individuals incompetent. Healthcare providers cannot decide if an individual incompetent. However, healthcare providers may give their opinion to judges to help them reach their decision.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

These are the activities that support independent living such as cooking, cleaning, driving, using the phone or computer, shopping, tracking finances, and managing prescribed treatments.

Living Will

A legal document that makes known a persons wishes regarding medical treatments at the end of life; this allows a person to state in advance his or her wishes regarding the use or removal of life-sustaining or death-delaying procedures in the vent or injury or illness (American Bar Association, n.d.).

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels are programs that deliver meals to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals.


Behavior of person and/or caregiver that fails to promote health or therapeutic plan agreed on by the person (and/or family or community) and the healthcare professional. It is also referred to as non-adherence.

Nurse Practitioner

A Registered Nurse with at least a masters degree in nursing and advanced education in the primary care of particular groups of clients. The nurse practitioner is capable of independent practice in a variety of settings.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists work with individuals living with mental, physical, and/or developmental disabilities and help them perform daily tasks. Occupational therapists assist a broad range of individuals with a variety of disabilities. Occupational therapists provide services that help the person return to usual activities (such as bathing, preparing meals, and housekeeping) independently after an illness. The services can be provided in hospitals and in the person’s home.

Personal Care

Care provided by the home health aide that includes bathing, grooming, toileting, changing diaper, feeding, etc.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are licensed to assist with the return to normal function and maintenance of fitness for individuals with physical restrictions. Physical therapists are rehabilitation professionals that use different therapies to help people maximize mobility and restore strength and body movement after an illness or injury such as a stroke, fall, back injury, etc. Physical therapists offer treatments to renew or increase movement and independence, to restore function, strength, and to maintain maximum performance. Treatments by these therapists may include the use of heat, light, exercise, and massage.

Physician Assistant

Advanced practice clinicians licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of a licensed physician (American Association of Physician Assistants, 2016).

Plan of Care

Written orders by healthcare providers for home health services and treatments based on the patients condition. The plan of care is developed by the primary provider, the home health team, and the patient. The home health team keeps the primary provider up-to-date on the patients condition and updates the plan of care as needed. It is the primary provider, and not the home health team, that authorizes what services are needed and for how long. The plan of care is sometimes called plan of treatment.


Podiatrists are doctors of foot care. They are experts in treating and preventing problems of the feet.

Primary Care Physician

A primary care physician is a medical doctor or a MD. He or she is one type of primary care provider who is trained to manage and coordinate the overall care of the patient

Primary Care Provider

A primary care provider is a healthcare professional that manages and coordinates the overall care of the patient. He or she has one of the following titles: medical doctor, a doctor of osteopathy, a nurse practitioner, and physician assistant. All of them are trained to give basic general care. He or she may talk with the person about specialized care, other healthcare providers, and make referrals. In many healthcare plans, a primary care provider must be seen first before the individual can be seen by specialists.


An entity, organization or individual which provides healthcare services, such as a physician, a hospital or a home healthcare company.


Treatment of mental or emotional illness by talking about problems rather than by using medicine or drugs. See cognitive behavioral therapy.

Registered Nurse

A registered nurse is a nurse who goes through an extensive training process and nursing board certification. Registered nurses provide skilled healthcare to patients in need.


Rehabilitation is the recovery process following a surgery, injury, or illness. Home healthcare provides rehabilitation services within the home in order to help the individual re-adjust to daily life.

Respite Care

Respite care is designed to give the primary caregiver a break from their duties. The care is provided intermittently in the home or institution in order to provide temporary relief to the family home caregiver.

Senior Care

Senior care is care of the elderly and is often referred to as elder care or geriatric care. Senior care ranges from home healthcare for medical needs to non-medical caregiver or companion services.

Skilled Care

Skilled care is a type of healthcare given when you a person needs specialized nursing or rehabilitation staff to manage, observe, and evaluate the care. Nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are considered skilled care by Medicare. Any service that could be safely done by a non-medical person (or by person) without the supervision of a nurse is not considered skilled care.

Skilled Nursing Care

Care given or supervised by Registered Nurses. Nurses provide direct care, manage, observe, and evaluate a patients care; and teach the patient and his or her family caregiver. Examples include: giving IV drugs, shots, or tube feedings; changing dressings; and teaching about diabetes care. Any service that could be done safely by a non-medical person (or by the person) without the supervision of a nurse is not skilled nursing care. Medicare covers home health skilled nursing care that is part time and intermittent.

Social Worker

Social workers provide counseling to families and individuals to help them cope with problems associated with the care of an ill person. They assist in coordinating home care with other community programs after initially assessing the person to determine any physical, mental, or emotional needs. A medical social worker can provide case management, grief counseling, coordination of community resources, and assistance with the social/emotional effects of coping with acute and chronic illness in the home (National Association of Social Workers, n.d.).

Unskilled Care

Often mistaken to mean inferior care. Unskilled care simply refers to non-medical care, where medical training is not necessary. Personal care and companionship would be categorized as unskilled care while medical home healthcare would not.


Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). Types of dementia. Retrieved from

American Association of Physician Assistants. (2016, January). What is a PA? Retrieved from

American Bar Association. (n.d.). Living wills, health care Proxies, & advance health care directives. Retrieved from

American Cancer Society. (June 24, 2015). What is an advance directive? Retrieved from

Competency and Incompetency. (n.d.). Competency and Incompetency. Retrieved on January 1, 2017 from

“Consent.” (n.d.). In Retrieved January 17, 2017 from

“Diagnosis.” (n.d.). In Retrieved January 17, 2017, from

“Incapacitated.” (n.d.). In Retrieved January 17, 2017, from

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Psychotherapy. Retrieved from

National Association of Social Workers. (n.d.). Social work profession. Retrieved from (n.d.). Antipsychotic medicines. Retrieved from

 US Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Retrieved from

Last updated: June 7, 2020 at 16:50 pm by
I. M. Abumaria, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Version 2.00